Srinagar: The old-city quarter of Kawadara escaped last year’s deluge, but a year after the waters receded, the area still remains flooded. And that is because, as the locals say, the water here spews up from beneath the ground. So, after the floods, the water started rising from beneath, and just doesn’t recede. And what lingers in most of this vegetable growing area is the stench of stagnant water.
This area, which is a sort of geographical depression within the city, has been known for its vegetables – mostly Kawadari-variety haakh – but, post the floods, people here say their malayaria land (vegetable land) is turning into a wetland.
A local, Farooq Ahmad Suhul, says he has never witnessed such a setback to his income generated from growing vegetables. This year, his patch of vegetable land has got him no returns. “Our land has become banjar – fallow – as we are unable to stop the water oozing out from the ground and accumulating in our fields,” he says. He feels the whole area has suffered losses of around Rs 2 crore as most of the crop has failed due to this submerged condition.
Another grower, Mudasir Ahmad Pampori’s vegetable area as well as house remain submerged. Pampori says he requisitioned a dewatering pump in January this year, but it is yet to arrive. He says the people here had never faced such a problem until last September. The wells that were dug to irrigate the vegetable fields are discharging water on their own.
Manzoor Ahmad Makroo, of Makerpora mohalla, says that many of the wells that yielded water at a depth of six-eight feet are overflowing. He blames this rising water level on the adjoining Nallamar canal, that was natural drainage for their area, being turned into a road. “All the storm water now collects in Kawadara area,” he says.
In the adjoining Dalipora area, the lone marriage hall has not witnessed any celebrations this year as there is no way to enter the complex that also houses a school. “It is completely submerged and our pleas to dewater this area are not receiving any attention,” says Hashim, who runs the school. The children studying here actually enter the building through one of the windows!
The locals do say that instead of constructing a marriage hall the government should have set up a dewatering pump. However, Makroo says the whole city’s survival is now at stake because of mistakes made in the past. “In some areas, problems that existed before the floods have eased but ours have worsened, or stagnated since,” he says.